Championship Analysis – Nottingham Forest stay top despite draw at Watford

Nottingham Forest remain top of the Championship but lost their 100% record after settling for a 1-1 draw against Watford in one of two games on Sunday. It promised to be a cracking encounter at Vicarage Road with the top two, prior to Saturday, going head to head, and it didn’t disappoint – apart from perhaps the goal tally, which deserved to be higher.

There were mixed emotions in both camps afterwards, with a hint of party poopery thrown in. Gianfranco Zola arguably summed up proceedings best when he described the match as “one of those games I’m sure the crowd enjoyed but certainly not the managers,” adding he thought it was too open and hinting he would try to make the Hornets a more solid team. A shot in the arm, perhaps, for both Watford fans and the neutrals, who have seen Zola’s side score 13 times in five matches taking the three netted at Bristol Rovers in the Carling Cup into account.

Zola may have a valid point as despite still boasting the highest goal difference in the Championship season so far, Sunday’s result meant Watford slipped to fifth. Blackpool, Leicester and QPR all leapfrogged the Hornets with wins over Reading, Birmingham and Bolton respectively to join Forest on 10 points.

Forest assistant manager David Kelly described the game as “a good advertisement for the Championship” although chose to criticise his own team’s positioning of the wall for Watford’s goal – the first Forest have conceded this season – rather than praise Lewis McGugan, whose equaliser was a stunning direct free-kick. A tad harsh on McGugan, although as the midfielder was a youth product at the City Ground and scored spectacular goals for Forest for fun last season, perhaps one can understand Kelly’s disappointment.

Doncaster’s Paul Dickov was the most incensed manager of the weekend when his side’s fixture with Charlton Athletic on Saturday was abandoned at half-time due to a waterlogged pitch following a torrential downpour in south London. Donny were 3-1 up and Dickov was particularly unhappy as referee Lee Collins had allowed play to recommence during the first-half after he’d initially taken the players off. The Scot claimed the pitch had deteriorated no further; indeed, ground staff were helped by players to help clear excessive water.

Dickov’s opposite number, Chris Powell, was as diplomatic as possible in his reaction, saying: “I’m sure many of us would say a few years back you would carry on.

There was an element of farce in another fixture as Millwall forgot their kit on the way to Hillsborough and were forced to wear an old Sheffield Wednesday away strip as a result. On the bright side, the Lions earned their first point of the season in a 2-2 draw and were replaced at the foot of the table by Barnsley, who were thrashed 5-2 by Blackburn.

There were worrying results for two of the promoted sides, with Bournemouth suffering their second away hammering of the season, 5-1 at Huddersfield, and Yeovil, who have failed to score since their opening day win at Millwall, losing for the third successive game, 3-0 at home to Derby. In Sunday’s other fixture, Wigan and Middlesbrough shared a 2-2 draw at the DW Stadium.

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